sexta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 20

Day 20 - Salzburg

A new step of the trip starts. Leaving Joy and Lorenzo to their dreams, a city like Vienna behind, I went to the station trying to calculate if I would make it on time. I could not afford missing another train. The subway was fast and as I had seen the day before, I had to carry my luggage stairs up. I got to the platform 5 minutes before the departing time and I felt so proud I was early and not late.
The train was a bit different from the others I had taken till then. It was not so expensive but it seemed fancier. In all wagons you had a screen, showing you where you were in the map, the speed of the train, and some other details. I followed it as much as I could but as soon as the train started moving, the cradling movement lulled me into a dozing state. After all, I had slept 4 hours or something. I had planned a train trip so that I could cross Austria and see the fields, see whatever I could. So I did that every 5 seconds I could keep my eyes open. I had impressions like the following ones, but for sure I was partly unconscious when I took them.

Finally, the morning was advancing, the day was cold and the snow was abundant again. Vienna had been a kind of break since it didn’t snow so much and there was no snow on the streets like all the other places I had already been to. I arrived at Salzburg central station and I felt a bit daunted. I bought a ticket to go to the South Station where I was supposed to get off to go to my Couchsurfing base in the area. Buying the ticket was not difficult. But I asked for direction to where I should take the train and the attendant didn’t give me very precise information. I headed for the platforms, but there was no number of platform in the ticket and there was no escalators, only regular stairs and one had to go down a staircase and up another one to arrive at the platforms. Accessibility zero. There was no voice announcing the trains, not even in German. The trains came and they had no indication that it was the one I should take. There was nobody on the platform for me to ask for information. I tried a couple and they barely spoke English.
I went back to the ticket counter in order to understand better how I should proceed. It took 15 minutes dragging my suitcase to go and come back and I learned I could take any of the red trains (but why she had not told me that before I don’t know). I have to admit part of this confusion at the station was because it was under repair, but anyway, I was a bit sleepy and the loneliness (I had just made so special friends who I had to leave behind again), so I could not have a good first impression of the city.
I was also a bit anxious because the direction to get to my hosts’ house were not so clear. And because, differently from all my other CS experiences I would not be at a young person’s house. I would be staying with a family, two daughters and the parents. As I had it in my mind, the girls would be couchsurfers and the parents kind of accepted this lifestyle and had agreed to host people.
But I will come back to that later. I got off at the right station and looked around. No street names in signs, I had to look for a public phone. Finally I could reach them home and told I had arrived. As she was explaining to me which way to take, my one euro expired and I had to call again. Guess what? I couldn’t make the call. The phone had just decided not to work anymore. Probably it went on strike. So I made up my mind to walk towards the direction my sense was telling me (after the fiasco in Vienna I still insisted in relying on my inner GPS - silly me) to go. I walked and walked past some bus stops, no taxis around. Suddenly, from another direction a girl comes. There was nobody around for me to ask for direction so I stopped and to my surprise she asked: “are you Elton?”. She was Olivia, one of the daughters, one angel who had come to save me at the station. She told me we should walk the opposite way and so we did, across the meadows, which was a kind of shortcut.
The house was near a forest and the river. It was a two storey house, very well decorated and full of windows. The mother, Ansuela, was waiting for me. She took me to a room where I would be staying, and commented how big my suitcase was. All of them thought so, just like Joy and Lorenzo had already made fun of me because of its size. Well, never go to a backpack trip, like an adventure, with a big suitcase. (To defend myself: it was winter, I had never experience such cold so I had no idea how many things of each to take).
They took me for a tour in the house and asked questions about my trip till then. Of course I told them with details the sad story of Carol and we had lunch.
After lunch, one friend of the family actually came to catch us, plus some equipment - that is, some sledges - and headed towards one of the nearby mountains. She parked the car and we started going uphill. It took us more than half an hour to get to a good point. We had to stop at the middle to catch some breath, I remember looking at all that snow and freezing at the same time I was sweating from the exercise.
When we got to a certain point, no at the top, but high enough, Ansuela and her friend took their wood sledges and Olivia and I got the plastic ones. It would be the first time I would go tobogganing down the hill. This were some of the views we had going up.

I had to say it was quite an experience. It took some time for me to realize I had to control my body swing because I would go to the opposite side I had put my weight, so I had to swing left if I wanted to go right. Also, there was no space for the feet, so I had to keep them up and be careful not to let them change the delicate balance. So I would zigzag down the mountain, and once I even thought I would fall outside the path, because I could not stop. It would be very funny (and tragic) to see me rolling down the very steep hill. Adventure, you might say. Close to the bottom of the mountain, Olivia took a shortcut through one steeper hill beside the path, and this was a time I was afraid, for you had to be careful with the rocks not to get hurt or damage the sledge. It was my luck the way up took so long, because I was not so sure I would have liked to go up and down (like a drunk person). But I can’t deny it was a lot of fun.
We were a bit wet from the snow, so we headed home to warm up. As we got there, I met Herman, the father and we had a substantial five o’clock tea. The table was set at a part of the house full of windows in all sides so you could eat while observing the sunset and the mountains around.
After that, Ansuela invited me to go to the river bank and then we would be able to better watch the sunset. We had to get to the river by the middle of some trees, the woods. Not so distant, she told me, and it was less than 100 meters. As we got there the sun had already hidden behind the houses on the other side of the river.

There was a walkway along the river, and some people were passing by on their sweatsuits. There were some benches and I can’t remember if we sat there or if we just stood, but we started talking about life and about what we had in common. It was so nice, we discovered we loved singing. I told her about the story on the karaoke in Vienna and the time I sang on the karaoke going to Estonia, on the ship. Then, we got to Abba and we just started trying to remember the most we could of the lyrics. No song was completely sung, since we would always forget a line or two, so humming we went back home and she promised to show me some things on youtbube.
She introduced me to a couple who plays the acoustic guitar as percursion along with its string functions and she showed me a video of a singer who would from then on be part of my life: Katie Melua.
After that I took a shower and Ansuela told me they were waiting for a guy from Syria to come. he was from Couchsurfing and I was not sure whether he was going to sleep over as well or not. In the end, it turned out he was already living in the city, so he just wanted to make some new friends. He was a little slow in getting things and although he was not a strictly religious person, he had some behaviors very foreign to me. But we got some music sheets, he got an acoustic guitar, we found some other instruments and we sat at the table, Ansuela, Olivia, me and the guy, whose name I don’t remember, to have a good time singing and playing. I took a picture of the guy’s performance.
After having some fun, we had dinner. It was a delicious pumpkin soup or cream with some pumpkin oil. We talked a bit more and I ate heartily.
After dinner the guy left. I had wondered if he was going to stay there, but he lived downtown and was only getting to know some people from the city, other couchsurfers. Then, after taking everything to the kitchen, Ansuela suggested we should have some game time. She and I engaged in many activities: there was a board game with animals, which I loved called Hive. There was another, with some dark and light beads and we should create a sequence, preventing our opponent from creating one first. Finally, we had some billiard and table tennis in the basement. I felt so happy as it had been ages I hadn’t play anything. She had so much energy, she was overflowing with it and it was kind of contagious. She had told me she suffered from Parkinson disease. So she could not fully be what she had always loved being, an artisan, an artist. Even the guitar she could no longer play without some pain. Nevertheless, she was so active, she had so many nice ideas of what we could do to spend our time that all you had to do was to go with the flow, it was laughter and fun guaranteed. So, after playing and talking about life and all, we headed to bed. I knew I would be able to cover most of the tourist attractions in the two days I would be there, but I planned to wake up early.

Um comentário:

  1. This is one of most beautiful picture I've ever seen.congrats!!!Thats my boy:)kisses